ARTMEM—An interactive graphical program simulating membrane potential measurements across artificial membranes
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This paper describes ARTMEM, an interactive graphical simulation program, and its use for teaching students the concept of membrane potentials and the measurement of electrical potentials across an ion-selective membrane. The program, written in Borland C++, and specifically designed for IBM-PC-compatible equipment, can also run on fast Macintosh computers using SoftPC emulation software. It demonstrates how an ion-selective membrane separating two different salt solutions automaticallygenerates a potential across the membrane, as well as how such electrical potentials can be measured simply and the underlying permeability ratio determined. The program was developed to replace a previous experiment with actual artificial resin membranes; virtually every feature of the experiment has been simulated (e.g., unstirred-layer effects, solutionmixing contamination, liquid junction potential effects). In addition, a number of these features and the procedure for data fitting are more clearly demonstrated using the computer simulation. The efficacy of such a simulation is discussed in comparison with the real experiment and other types of simulations.
KeywordsPhysiology teaching Computer simulation Membrane potentials Computer programs
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